Jesus Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen, Indeed!

May we stop and reflect on the beauty of the Cross this Easter
week. It is not about what outfit we wear to church…not about bunnies and plastic eggs…it is all about the LOVE OF GOD manifested for all humanity through the finished work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). He took the penalty of God’s wrath for the sin I committed and could not help my self to avoid (Isaiah 53:3)…love was shown by God in this radical act of devotion and zealous pursuit (John 3:16)…when Jesus died for you…for me…and all who call upon the mighty and eternal name of the Savior, Jesus Christ (John 3:18). And praise God…the STORY DOES NOT END THERE (1 Corinthians 15:4)!

On the third day, just as the prophesies had predicted…women (Matthew 28:6)…Roman soldiers guarding the tomb (Matthew 28:11-15)…and the disciples of Jesus Christ all gave witness to the fact that an angel of God had rolled away the stone in front of the tomb…and JESUS HAD RISEN FROM THE DEAD (Luke 24:1-12)! THANK YOU JESUS!

For all who are contemplated whether or not to buy into this account of Easter, I encourage you to read Luke chapter 22 through Luke chapter 24 within the Holy Bible…and pray for the Lord to reveal Himself…praise God that He is not timid…but WANTS to be found by all humanity…He created us…and loved us…and it is for the JOY of reconciliation that He took my sin and my shame upon Himself…and simply asks me (and all others) to believe…and enjoy ETERNAL RIGHT STANDING BEFORE ALMIGHTY GOD…How beautiful is the message of hope that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

If you would like to make Jesus Christ the Lord of your own life…to cover and forgive each and every screw up you have ever done…and I assure you…He had a lot to cover in my own life…HE IS READY TO THIS VERY MOMENT. You see, the Holy Bible assures us that not ONE of us is worthy of heaven for each of us do, say and think wicked things…it’s just the truth.
And with this truth in mind, God showed is unabashed love for all humanity by coming Himself…WRAPPED IN HUMAN FLESH…as a Babe, called Jesus Christ…and after 33 years of living in the Middle East and performing miracles, raising people from the dead and making known that He was the only way to get to God (because He IS GOD)…He then went to
the cross…the most brutal and barbaric killing instrument of that day…for me…for you…and for each and every soul who comes to realize that WE CANNOT MAKE IT ON OUR OWN…no amount of achievement, botox, social status, Bible memory, good deeds or anything else can get us into heaven…IT IS BY JESUS CHRIST ALONE. It is truly that simple.

And if you want Him to become the Lord and King of your life–just ask Him now. “Dear Jesus, I have screwed up in this life. I cannot make it to heaven on my own. I want to be forgiven of my wrongs and know that You can do this. I believe that You are the Son of God and that You
did raise from the dead on the third day, just as the Bible says. I accept You into my life…not as a figure…but as my one and only God. Thank You for the assurance of my rescue and salvation that I cannot loose…because I did not earn it. In the name of my Lord and God, 
Jesus the Christ, I pray…amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, I encourage you to TELL SOMEONE…for there is much to rejoice over! It is then time to start getting involved with 
other believers in Jesus Christ. Happy Easter! He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

Illustrate Easter Week Through SNACKS with your kids!

Tell the Easter story through SNACKS!

Snack ideas to make Easter week come alive!! I wrote this a few years ago while we were living in the Middle East. Our children were much younger and ways to illustrate the Week of Easter with them was heavily impressed upon my heart. This is what the Lord brought to mind! May it bless you and your family as you too, lead your children through the Passion Week of Jesus Christ.

 

Palm fronds: Sugar cookies cut out like palm fronds and frosted green. Allow children to wave them around as you all shout “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (John 12:13)

 

Donkey: Marshmallows and pretzels-allow the children to be creative as they master the art of balance as they create a donkey. Remind the children that it was a young colt, a young donkey, that Jesus rode into Jerusalem into Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread to fulfill the prophesy (Zechariah 9:9 & John 12:14-15).

 

Kingly Crown: With pineapple rounds, allow children to stick pretzels into it to form their own crowns. Allow the children to then poke orange, mango, kiwi and other soft fruit chunks onto the pretzel pieces to give it a royal feel. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

 

Communion: Gram crackers (or pita) with juice-allow the children to experience the communion with foods they are familiar with. As they break the grams and pass them around, explain that Jesus described this as His body (Luke 22:19). As each child then receives some juice (grape is best), explain that Jesus described this as His blood (Luke 22:20). These comments are to state that through Jesus Christ alone, we are granted freedom, new life and clean hands in sight of Father God.

 

Praying in the Garden: Fresh olives (pitted is best)—allow the children to eat fresh olives as you describe what happened on the Mount of Olives. Jesus prayed for the brutal death not to happen, if there was another way for humanity to be pardoned from all the naughty things we have done. There was no other way. So, surrendering His own will to Father God, Jesus stated “Not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

 

Judas’ Betrayal: Mini M&Ms or sprinkles—explain that Judas Iscariot loved money more than Jesus. He was willing to accept money (30 pieces of silver) to turn Jesus in to the powerful Jewish council, called the Sanhedrin (Zechariah 11:12-13 & Matthew 27:9). To Judas, the thirty pieces of silver sounded so sweet at first, but after watching Jesus arrested and mistreated by the Sanhedrin, he tried to give the money back and said he had betrayed an innocent man (Matthew 27:4-5).

 

The Beatings: Licorice ropes or carrot sticks—allow the children to hit the side of the table as hard as they can with the licorice or carrot. Explain that Jesus was hit with whips, and laughed at by the very ones He had come to rescue. He was on a mission. Nothing, not even the ones He had come to save would stop Him from bringing about a rescue that each human heart desperately needed (Isaiah 53:5 & John 19:1)

 

Crown of thorns: With licorice rope and tooth picks (not to be eaten)—create a crown by securing both ends with a toothpick piece. Then, allow the children to each create their own “crown of thorns”. Point out how pokey it is—and ask them to imagine how much it must have hurt Jesus to have a real crown of thorns on His head (John 19:2).

 

The Cross: Sugar cookie with frosting—although it was a sad, sad day, we thank God for the sweet, sweet gift of Jesus taking the BIG TIME OUT for each and every one of us.  Punishment for our sins was a consequence and punishment too big for any of us–that’s why Jesus did it! Jesus took our place and that is the sweetest gift of all (John 3:16).

 

Lots Cast: Jelly Beans (or blueberries)-allow the children to roll the jelly beans across the floor or table. Teach them that this is what the soldiers did for Jesus’ clothing—just as the prophesy had predicted (Psalm 22:18 & John 19:23-24).

 

Veil is Torn: Sugar candy that peels apart-explain that when Jesus died upon the cross and shouted “It is finished!” (John 19:30), the separation that all of humanity had experienced from God, since the Garden of Eden, was lifted! The veil within the Holy of Holies, the inner most part of the Temple, where only the High Priest could go once a year—had been ripped from top to bottom (Mark 15:37-38)! This was highly significant! There was no longer a need to go to the Temple to be declared clean by the High Priest! Now, through Jesus Christ, all of humanity was given direct access to God the Father once more through the atoning work of Jesus Christ’s death (and approaching resurrection!).

 

 

Empty tomb: Use a cookie cutter to take the middle out of marshmallows (or apples). The marshmallow symbolizes the tomb, whereas the portion cut out symbolizes the stone, which was rolled away (Matthew 28:6-7). Read from Matthew 28:5-7. where the angel asks the women, “Why are you looking for the living in a grave yard? Jesus is not here, He is risen, just as He said! 

“5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” Matthew 28:5-7 (NASB)

 

Jesus’ Ascension: Cotton candy look like clouds and makes this point beautifully! Oh, how sweet it is! Jesus blessed His disciples and encouraged them to tell all people, in every nation, that hope and forgiveness of the naughty things we do, can be grasped by all, through Jesus Christ alone. Then, as He blessed them, Jesus began to rise off of the ground and return to Father God in heaven! His disciples marveled in astonishment as they stared up into the sky—now unable to see Jesus. Then, two angels appear to them and told them to return to Jerusalem and do the things that Jesus told them to do—share the GOOD NEWS OF JESUS CHRIST with all people—because Jesus has made a way for people of all backgrounds, all languages and all doubts to come to heaven through believing that Jesus Christ is the Risen Son of God (Matthew 28:19-20 & Acts 1:9-14).

 

It is through the powerful act of love demonstrated by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, that grants us access to heaven. As Jesus Christ died upon a cross and rose from the dead on the third day, all were granted freedom from the prison of our own selfishness when we believe and trust in Him (Romans 8:28). What a blessing to know that when we say “I am sorry, God.” We are forgiven—because of Jesus taking the BIG TIMEOUT for us. Ask Him into your heart and tell others that you trust in Jesus Christ to be the one and only true leader of your life–and He will do it with faithful love (Romans 10:9-10).

Ascending Love; An Easter Story

As Easter is quickly approaching, we will now step into the shoes of those who witnessed the miraculous events of the Risen Christ. Journey with me as we revisit a blog posted while we were still living in the Middle East–and the Easter story took on a whole new meaning.

As Christian Arabs say in Arabic “Al Meseejh cam! Haqam, cam!” Translated to English: He is risen! He is risen, indeed!

Blooming Beauty

“He was right.” Thomas recalled to himself. Still staring up into the sky, with the remaining ten disciples. Thomas continued, “I will forever sing Your praises, Jesus. Thank you.” Jesus of Nazareth had ascended into heaven after conquering death on a cross, just as the prophecies said of the Messiah (Psalm 16:10, Isaiah 52:13-Isaiah 53:12, Daniel 7:13-14, John 14:1-4, John 16:16, John 16:25-28).

51While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53and were continually in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:51-52 (NASB)

As the eleven disciples walked on the road back to Jerusalem from Bethany, following the ascension of Jesus into heaven (Luke 24:50), Thomas recalled the Passover within this whirlwind of supernatural events that had been the past three and a half years of Jesus’ ministry. For…

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Easter In Light Of Islam: Combatting the Lie that Jesus Never Died

Over the past nine years, the Lord Jesus has allowed my heart to be stirred and moved for a people group that I previously had known nothing about. Apart from a few news clips here or there in the press, I knew next to nothing about the Arab people as a whole; specifically the Muslim people. As I began to interact with my Muslim friends (while living and traveling extensively in North Africa, the Middle East and America), I began to learn so much about their culture, their faith and their overall beliefs. But what caught me most off guard was the sincere willingness and deep yearning in many to know more about the God of the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible, in Arabic). 

 

Ladies, may we take every opportunity to prayerfully engage with those of other faiths and other cultures with the good news of Jesus Christ! For there is only ONE NAME by which humanity can be saved; and that name is the risen Son of God, Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, Acts 4:12, Acts 10:43, 1 Timothy 2:5-6). Now, allow us to see how the Qur’an can be used to point a seeking Muslim to Jesus Christ.

 

 

Qur’an 3:3-4…God sent the Torah (the Old Testament of the Bible), the Injeel (the New Testament of the Bible) and the Light (Jesus is called the “Light of God” in the Qur’an)…and those who do not believe in them have gone astray.

 

 

Qur’an 10:94 …God told Mohammad, if you are in doubt, speak to the “People of the Book” and this was only the Jews (referenced in the Old Testament of the Bible) and the Christians (referenced in the New Testament of the Bible). Muslims were not called “People of the Book” until Mohammad’s death…when the Qur’an was compiled.

 

 

Since the Qur’an tells Muslims to believe the Bible (the “People of the Book”), it is then implied that they should listen to the law spoken of in the Bible; that was fulfilled through the death, burial and resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.

Islam and Christianity both teach that humanity is flawed, but each have very different means to deal with the issue. Islam teaches that by doing enough regulated deeds for Allah; one can attain right standing with Allah; for a short time…before messing up as a human again. Christianity teaches that it is through Jesus Christ alone that we can be saved from the rebellious nature of our hearts and receives right standing before Almighty God (1 John 4:9-10). Christianity unabashedly proclaims that there is nothing that we could do on our own to attain this right standing before God; this is the beauty of Easter!

 

“1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. 3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ(by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10 (NASB)

 

Islam teaches that Jesus never actually died on the cross. It is taught that Judas Iscariot was transposed onto the cross, to keep a prophet of God, Jesus, from being “shamed”. Thus, Islam teaches that Judas was transposed upon the cross and that Jesus was taken up into heaven to have never seen death. With this logic, how could Jesus save me from death, if He Himself never died? The problem with this logic is it is all based on one verse within the Qur’an (Qur’an 4:157). The reality is, there are actually three references to the death of Jesus within the Qur’an:

 

Qur’an 3:55…Allah told Jesus that He was lifting Him up to Himself (also can mean DEATH in Arabic…the word used is mudawafika” meaning either lifted up or death).

 

Qur’an 4:157…Though they killed Jesus, the Son of Mary, but it was not true

 

Qur’an 19:33…Jesus said bless the day I was born, the day I died and the day I was raised alive.

 

A few days ago in our home, the Lord gave me the awesome opportunity to share the truth of what Jesus Christ said about Himself within the Bible over tea. And in that time, the Holy Spirit revealed to this young woman the beautifully victorious implications of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus on the third day in the tomb.

 

And as we spoke, my Muslim friend shared that she had read some parts of the Bible in Arabic before, but that she had lots of questions. We had an Arabic version of the Holy Bible on our bookshelf, and as we spoke, the Lord laid it upon my heart to place it into her hands. As I did, the young woman’s eyes grew wide and she gently stroked the front cover. She opened the covered and asked what year this was published. She sat silently for a moment before looking up with extreme urgency in her voice. “I have to read this.” She looked back down at the Arabic script upon the pages of this version of the Bible within her mother tongue and flipped through the pages in excited silence. My friend then spoke again, “May I borrow this?! I have to read this.” The Lord prompted my heart to give her the Arabic Bible and she was overwhelmed. At first she said that she could not accept it, but then reaffirmed the fact that she had to read the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible, in Arabic).

 

My friend shared that she was not a “bad Muslim”, but still did not adhere to all that Islam taught (e.g. covering her hair, praying five times a day in the direction of Mecca, etc.). But, I shared that the Injeel (The New Testament of the Bible in Arabic) teaches us that we all are bad and have made God sad (Romans 3:23). The expectation from God is that we are mathaalee (perfect, in Arabic). And since we are not, and cannot be perfect, this is the beauty of Easter!!!

 

I told her with a smile Allah m’hubber (God is love, in Arabic) and that God proved His love for each and every person by sending Jesus to die upon the cross for the bad and shameful things that we each have done. My friend listened intently and took in each word that was spoken.

 

I then shared f’kot wahed Allah, welakin theretha fee wahed. (There is only one God, but there is three in one). God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I then shared that Jesus (Eesah, in Arabic) – Eesah hoowa Allah –Jesus is God. My friend listened as she strained forward while sipping on sugary tea with fresh mint. Her face had such a genuine yearning to know more. My heart was praising Jesus for this opportunity to speak of my risen Savior to a Muslim friend who wanted to learn more about Him!

 

Ladies, the point of this post is this, PREACH THE WORD of Jesus Christ, both in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:1-2). There is so much at stake. There are so many who are desperate to learn more of Jesus Christ and what the BIBLE has to say about Him. May we take a stand of truth and love for Jesus Christ—for the world needs to hear of the God who redeemed all who call upon the name of Jesus Christ. Happy Easter…HE IS RISEN…HE IS RISEN, INDEED!